Prolonging Your Window AC Unit’s Life

In some parts of the world, air conditioning is a necessity even for young, healthy people. In others, having comfortable air inside the house is just nice. Whether your window AC units are essentials or luxuries, these tips will help you get many hours of cool air from them.

Before you start, make sure the AC is unplugged. You should also put the unit on a stable surface designed to handle its weight.

Clean the unit before you start it the first time in the spring or summer. A thorough cleaning involves removing the panel that covers the top and sides—this provides access to the internal parts, which can become dirty or mouldy—but that should be left to a professional for your safety.

You can, however, wash or replace the filter and use a garden hose to clean off the fins on the back side of the unit. Also, use a fin comb to straighten any bent fins. Many hardware and home improvement stores sell that inexpensive, but important, tool.

Check the power cord. You can, and should, have this replaced if it's frayed, worn, chewed, or otherwise damaged. Securely storing the unit in the off season should prevent most of these power cord problems.

Clean out the drain port(s) so that the unit won't leak. You can use wire cutters to clip off a straight piece of wire from a metal coat hanger; that usually works well for this job. Consult the owner's manual to locate the drain port(s) if you aren't sure where to find them.

At the end of the season, remove the window unit from the wall and store it inside. This isn't a bad time to clean the air conditioner and let everything dry before carting it off to the storage area.

When you put away the AC, make sure the unit's upright and cover it with a drop cloth or other suitable item to keep out dust and debris. Contractor-grade trash bags work well; smaller units will need only one bag apiece.

If you find that your air conditioning unit is not as efficient as you like, consider trying some of the steps that will either make it more efficient or decrease your home's need for it.

The better you clean and maintain your window AC unit, the longer it should work. Even though some of these systems are inexpensive, taking care of that unit will extend its life and, therefore, save you money later.